The Huawei Mate X was scheduled for a September 2019 release date initially, but the company says its foldable is now delayed until November.
For some unknown reason, which Huawei has chosen not to reveal, the Chinese vendor will not release its first foldable, the Huawei Mate X, until October (at the earliest), which means that Samsung's Galaxy Fold makeover will hit shelves first should the Fold arrive in September without any further design flaws or delays. It's clearly a win for South Korean juggernaut Samsung Electronics, who was worried at one point about Huawei's foldable smartphone emerging first.
Huawei Mate X rival rushed to market
In an interview, Samsung Electronics CEO D.J. Koh said that Samsung rushed its first foldable, the Galaxy Fold, to market in order to be the first to manufacture a foldable display. While rushing a product to market is never a good thing, it's understandable as to why Samsung would want to be first.
Samsung was the first to even begin research on foldable smartphones, patenting a flexible hinge and foldable smartphones as early as 2011. The company's eight years of research into foldable smartphones and flexible displays could easily have gone downhill had the company not been the first to release the new smartphone for a new smartphone category. In tech, the drive to be first is above all else.
Huawei Mate X final version is a slight redesign from the original
Huawei made the announcement about the delay of its Mate X foldable at a press event at Shenzhen headquarters. The company showed the early certified Mate X version, though a slight redesign means that the final model looks slightly different than the certified version. For one, the lock button is slimmer so the Mate X can lie down on flat surfaces, and the Falcon "hinge" of the device has been refined to make it more sturdy and durable.
The Huawei Mate X foldable smartphone and Samsung's Galaxy Fold are different takes on the foldable design. Whereas Samsung's Galaxy Fold comes inward, the Mate X folds outward. Samsung designed its Galaxy Fold to imitate the butterfly, who flaps its wings inward, hence the butterfly on the Galaxy Fold's promotional material.
Huawei, on the other hand, made its Mate X imitate the falcon, whose wings flap outward rather than inward (hence the "Falcon" hinge design).
Whereas Samsung's Galaxy Fold came with a protective film that, unfortunately, tech reviewers didn't remember to keep on the device (they believed it to be an optional screen protector), Huawei's Mate X doesn't come with a protective layer.
Samsung's Galaxy Fold released for a short time until reviewers started to notice problems and returned their units within the first 48 hours. Dust, dirt, and other particles made their way inside the hinge, while some Galaxy Fold units flickered on and off until they finally died randomly.
Huawei's November launch will give Huawei a first debut of its Mate X, though Samsung and Huawei have redesigned their phones in some ways before releasing (or re-releasing) them to market.
Huawei Mate X versus Samsung Galaxy Fold
The Huawei Mate X features an 8-inch display that folds into 6.6-inch and 6.38-inch screens, comes with 8GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, two SIM card slots, and Huawei's 7-nanometer Kirin 980 SoC, with a triple rear camera setup and a 4,500mAh battery with Huawei's 55W SuperCharge fast charging technology. The foldable smartphone comes with a gapless design without notches, though Samsung's Galaxy Fold has a wide, top right notch and isn't gapless.
The Galaxy Fold features 512GB of storage as well, but has 12GB of RAM to the Mate X's 8GB of RAM. Whereas the Mate X features a 4,500mAh battery, the Galaxy Fold has a capacity of slightly less at 4,380mAh.
Whereas Huawei's 8-inch screen folds into two 6-inch screens, Samsung's Galaxy Fold emerges from a small, 4.6-inch phone screen to a tablet-like, 7.3-inch screen. This means that, whereas the Mate X has a dual display experience, Galaxy Fold users get a truly fold-able screen where there's only one full screen instead of two. So to compare these two properly, one must understand that the Huawei Mate X is a "dual display foldable" whereas the Samsung Galaxy Fold is a "uni-display" or single-display foldable. Like the Mate X, the Galaxy Fold also has a triple rear camera setup.
Android Pie or HarmonyOS?
As for the OS, Huawei could very well bring the Mate X to market with Android 9.0 Pie and its own EMUI Android "skin" on top, though the arrival of its own HarmonyOS on the market and Huawei's exit from Android suggests it's probably best to debut HarmonyOS on the foldable for upgrade-eligible reasons. Huawei tested HarmonyOS (called "HongMeng" in China) with OPPO and Vivo, two Chinese Android vendors who said it was 60% faster than Android.
At the same time, Huawei could always update the device to its own HarmonyOS next year, though Mate X users who grow accustomed to Android in the first-generation model may dislike the change to HarmonyOS next year (should Huawei upgrade the first-gen model).
Huawei Mate X2 or Huawei Mate X (2020) could feature more displays, glass back instead of steel
Additionally, the same event revealed that next year's iteration of the Mate X, the Huawei Mate X (2020) or the Mate X2, could feature more displays than the first-generation foldable. Huawei says it wants to exchange the steel rear cover on the current Mate X for a glass back, allowing the displays to become touchscreens in the next version.